DESPITE the ``Just Say No" campaign against drug addiction a few years ago, many people find that the task of overcoming dependency, even on alcohol and tobacco, requires far more than a catchy slogan.
If you--or someone you love--are struggling with addiction of any kind, there are some things you should know. One is that you can overcome it. Another is that prayer will help you.
Perhaps prayer isn't at the top of your list of ``how to be cured," but Christ Jesus gave many examples of how God's love can restore a life that seems lost. A famous one is recounted in his parable about a young man who took his share of the inher-itance and set off to see the world. He must have had high hopes, this bright young man. But things didn't turn out as he thought they would. Soon the money was gone and the people who claimed to be his friends turned away from him. Desperate, he was reduced t o feeding pigs and to wishing that he could eat some of the husks they ate. It was a grim moment. Maybe you are having such a time. Maybe you feel alone and worthless as he did. Maybe your pockets are empty too.
The Bible tells us in Luke's Gospel that the young man ``came to himself" and said, ``How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!" And he set off for home, planning to ask if his father would let him be a servant. The account goes on to say, ``When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him."
I love that message because it says that we don't have to be perfect to receive God's love. It means that right now you and I can feel God's love and can trust this love to lead us to the next step. Why should God love you? Because you are His child, and even if you appear humanly to be dissolute, God knows you as you really are: spiritual, good, and perfect. And like the prodigal son, you can come to yourself--you can look inside for this spirituality and find it. Any desire of the heart to be better, t o reach higher, is evidence of Christ--of the true nature of man-- asserting itself in your life. And it gives you the opportunity to break free of addiction.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains how to be free in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She writes: ``If a man is an inebriate, a slave to tobacco, or the special servant of any one of the myriad forms of sin, meet and destroy these errors with the truth of being,--by exhibiting to the wrong-doer the suffering which his submission to such habits brings, and by convincing him there is no real pleasure in false appetites."
The false appetites that lead to addiction stem from the belief that we are merely material beings, subject to the pleasures and pains of the body. A drug--or other substance--would seem to offer us escape from this unhappy condition.
But we are not, in fact, imprisoned in such a hopeless materialism. And prayer is an affirmation of our actual spirituality and our freedom from the prison of materiality. It speaks bravely and truly of our deeper, inner being, of qualities that come to us from God such as intelligence, love, goodness, and purity. And it affirms not only that these qualities are our true being but that they will satisfy us and bring us the lasting peace that comes from God.
Working our way out of addiction is seldom easy, but it is possible if we are willing to put our lives on a new course--one that leads us to spirituality and to God. And even when we are ``yet a great way off," our Father will come to us and help us the rest of the way home.